When we think of castles, we think of cemented, strong walls built together to form a fortress. Hardly would you associate the making of a castle with something soft in nature. But what if we told you there exists a cotton castle? Yes, you read that right! A cotton castle. If you doubt its existence, stay glued to this article as we introduce you to Pamukkale, also known as the “Cotton Castle” of Turkey.
Why Cotton Castle?
Pamukkale means “cotton castle” in Turkish. It is a natural site in Denizli Province, southwestern Turkey famous for a carbonate mineral left on the surface of the area by the flowing of thermal spring water. The carbonate mineral is usually described as shimmery and snow-like.
This is because the mineral is white limestone and has been shaped over millions of years by springs rich in calcite. The mineral-rich spring water flows slowly down the mountainside, allowing some of the water to collect and others to continue flowing down the terraces formed in the area as a result of the hardened minerals, therefore, forming pools below.
The area’s principal crop is cotton therefore there is a legend existing that states that the terraces are solidified kinds of cotton that giants left out to dry hence the origin of its name the cotton castle.
How Does The Cotton Castle Look Like?
Pamukkale is mostly made up of terraces that were formed by travertine. Travertine is a sedimentary rock deposited by mineral water from the thermal springs. There are 17 hot springs deep within the area with temperatures ranging from 35 degrees Celsius to 100 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit to 212 degrees Fahrenheit).
The water that is produced from the spring is transported about 320 meters (1,049 feet) to the head of the travertine terraces and this process deposits calcium carbonate on the path making the water heavily saturated with calcium carbonate.
When the water gets to the surface from within the ground, carbon dioxide degasses from it making way for calcium carbonate to be deposited into the water. The calcium carbonate is introduced to the water as a soft get that crystallizes into travertine.
Are People Enchanted By The Cotton Castle?
Yes, they are! For many centuries people have been attracted to the area due to the existing thermal pools. This led to locals opening hotels and building roads as a means to access the area in the mid-20th century.
This, however, did not help as it caused considerable damage to the land. After the area was declared a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site in 1988, the hotels were demolished and roads removed and replaced with artificial pools.
However, there exists a museum on the site and a small footpath runs up the mountain face for visitors to use. But the travertine terraces are not accessible to tourists having suffered major damage and water pollution from tourism.
Does It Have Links To The Bible?
There are little-known historical facts about the origin of Pamukkale and its springs. However, it is believed to have some links to the Bible. It is believed that the Christian apostle Paul built a Church here while he was at Ephesus and it is also believed that apostle Philip spent the last years of his life here and that the town’s martyrium was allegedly built at the spot where Philip was crucified.
Apostle Paul’s daughters are also believed to have been prophetesses in the region during their time. Christianity also grew in the area as certain land sites were transformed to serve Christian purposes. For example, the Roman Baths located in the area were transformed into a Christian basilica. Christianity continued to grow and remained an important aspect of the region.
In The Modern World?
Today, Pamukkale is not tied to religious notions however, it is free from prejudice and opens itself to the world. The warm waters of the region are definitely inviting, and if you are thinking of a place to vacation, make sure to consider the Cotton Castle and you sure won’t forget it!
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Written by: Abigail Adeyemi, Sun, Jun 12, 2022.